Maha Bahamdoun is an international development expert. Her experience spans many years of work across three continents with specific focus on poverty and environment. Through her work at the United Nations Development Program she has been involved in designing strategies to help poor communities in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Malawi, and various countries in South and South East Asia. Her work includes designing programs that engage the youth in development; supporting artisan communities in achieving sustainable livelihoods whilst maintaining traditional methods of production; addressing psychosocial needs of communities in war torn societies with a focus on the changing roles of women; and designing programs that strengthen civil society engagement in elections. Her passion for deepening her understanding of how to make development work for the poor led her to live and work in Malawi where she collaborated closely with the Government of Malawi assisting in developing pro-poor strategies to combat poverty. She collaborated closely with Columbia University’s Earth Institute which led to an invitation to join their Environmental Science and Policy program. The focus of her studies was how to design public policies that effectively addressed environmental challenges including those of the poor and how those policies could then become a framework for partnerships between government, civil society and the private sector and achieve strategic objectives for environmental sustainability.
Maha Bahamdoun has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and holds two Master’s Degrees, one from Bath University, U.K. in Comparative Linguistics and Translation, and the second from Columbia University, New York, in Environmental Science and Public Policy. She has lived and worked in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Switzerland, Germany and the U.K. She currently lives in New York with her husband and her ten year old son.